This week we are pleased to launch a new permanent tribute to our founder Mary Aikenhead in Dublin with the installation of two panels that detail her life and service to the poor. The panels will be on permanent display at a dedicated space in the historic St Francis Xavier Church on Gardiner Street, Dublin more commonly known as ‘Gardiner Street Church’.
The panels show the journey of our founder, her work and dedication to help the poor and the founding of the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity. The panels were installed this week to coincide with Culture Night 2019 on the 20th September.
One panel outlines the life of Mary Aikenhead from her birth, highlighting some significant milestones and her vision of faith. She founded the order in 1815 with a mission to give and help the poorest in our society at a time when only the rich could afford basic services such as education and healthcare. The second panel brings the visitor through the timeline of her life with each decade highlighting her achievements.
According to graphic designer Paula Nolan, who designed the panels “it was important to show Mary Aikenhead as human and even ordinary, and for this reason the principal image used with her personal biography is as a young woman, not in religious dress”.
The inspiration came from a similar panel installed at the same church two years ago, created to coincide with the Beatification of Blessed John Sullivan. The panels are large to ensure the text is easy to read but also in keeping with the surrounding walls of the church as they are quite vast. The larger panel is an impressive 3-meters wide by 2-meters high, twice the size of a queen size bed. Since the panels are made of a durable material and will be installed professionally, they will likely last for years.
The panels are a lovely addition to the church which already plays host to a multitude of sacred and culturally important items such as the sacred space of Blessed John Sullivan, Evie Hone stained glass windows and a Harry Clarke stained glass window. The panels were installed to not only co-incide with increased visitors to the church on Culture Night but to pay tribute all year round to the great work of Mary Aikenhead and the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity both at home and abroad.
It is a tremendous honour to have this dedicated area to honour Mary Aikenhead. Gratitude is due to the kindness of The Society of Jesus who offered the space in the historical Gardiner Street Church. Both the Religious Sisters of Charity and The Society of Jesus invite you to visit the new installation at Gardiner Street Church now on permanent display.
Sisters Phyllis Behan and Eilís Coe watch the installation of the panels